SVMC Diabetes Education Program Expands

November 28, 2016

BENNINGTON, VT—November 28, 2016—Patients’ needs and a growing emphasis on population health prompted an expansion to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center’s (SVMC) Diabetes Education Program over the last several months. The addition of a third full-time Certified Diabetes Educator allows the hospital to offer prevention education and specialized diabetes consultations for patients, nurses, and physicians in primary care offices, some hospital practices and departments, inpatient units, and at the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation.

Paula Haytko, RN, CDE, and Rachel Rodney, MS, RD, CDE, had offered classes like Diabetes Basics, Nutrition for Diabetes, and How to Test Your Blood Sugar since 2009. In 2012, the hospital hired Jill Robart, RN, CDE, to extend Diabetes Education into the primary care environment at the SVMC Deerfield Valley Campus. This change made it convenient for patients who had been diagnosed with diabetes to add a specialized diabetes consultation to their regular primary care appointments.

The outcomes were significant. Providers noted decreases in patients’ A1C readings, the primary indicator of the severity of diabetes and how well it is being managed. An increase in patient visits indicates that more patients were managing the disease in a way that would prevent or delay serious and costly complications.

“The data we collected showed the value of the one-on-one experience and of having an expert available to identify patients’ motivations and their often-unique barriers to improvement,” said Robart.

With the support of the Deerfield Valley data, in-practice diabetes education expanded to SVMC Internal Medicine and SVMC Northshire Campus in 2013. Throughout 2014 and 2015, Rodney expanded her work to cover 13 medical homes. And in January 2016, the program expanded Haytko’s role into a full-time position.

The added hours allowed the program to reach more practices, including SVMC Pownal Campus, Shaftsbury Medical Associates, and Mount Anthony Primary Care in Bennington. Several other practices refer patients to see Haytko at her office at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. Haytko is also available to patients, nurses, and hospitalists in SVMC’s inpatient units and to patients and clinical teams at the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation. In addition, Haytko offers the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Class. Patients are referred when they have A1C readings that indicate they may be headed for a diabetes diagnosis. Acting during this time can prevent Type 2 diabetes, which is irreversible.

Also in 2016, Kristin Irace, RD, joined the team to continue in-patient consultations and those at SVMC OB/GYN and SVMC Renal Dialysis. Her work expanded to the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center in early 2016.

“Diabetes is complex. By specializing, diabetes educators are able to keep up with treatment advances and changes in medication, for instance,” Robart said.

“This set of offerings is much a more efficient way to get the most up-to-date information to patients, nurses, and providers at the time and in the place that is most convenient for them,” Haytko added.

Billie Lynn Allard, SVMC’s administrative director of Care Management, Transitional Care, and Ambulatory Services, is optimistic regarding the program’s future.

“With Jill, Kristin, Paula, and Rachel all working community-wide to improve the overall understanding and management of this disease, we are gaining traction,” Allard said. “Their work is improving more patients’ lives right now, and I think, together, they will make a tremendous impact over time.”

Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC’s providers are members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians, a multispecialty medical group operated in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. SVHC includes the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, a 150-bed long- and short-term care skilled nursing facility; the SVHC Foundation; and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), a 99-bed community hospital. SVMC’s services include an emergency department staffed by physicians each of whom is board certified in emergency medicine; the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, which is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and managed by Dartmouth-Hitchcock; and a fully-digital imaging department. SVMC also includes 19 primary and specialty care practices and primary care offices in Bennington, Manchester, Pownal, West Dover, and Wilmington, VT. The hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission and is the state’s first Magnet Center for Nursing Excellence, a designation it has held since 2002. To learn more, visit

Southwestern Vermont Health Care complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. Language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you at 1-800-367-9559.